Manage Co-Worker/Direct Report Expectations During Your MBA

MBA Work-Life Balance and the Workplace

Imagine that you are one of six project team leaders with six direct reports each, team leaders cover for each other during periodic absences, you are a good leader, co-workers and direct reports enjoy working with you and feel you care about them as individuals, and you enjoy what you do.  Now consider that you will soon become a member of an MBA team when you start your MBA program and you will likely be the MBA team leader during the first round of team assignments.

What must you do to maintain your high level of career well-being and work-life balance?  Do you think a decline in career well-being is inevitable?  Is it possible to maintain your current level of career well-being while adding an MBA program?

Avoiding a decline in career well-being will require effort.  Start by completing Gallup’s Wellbeing Finder assessment before your first MBA class to establish a baseline for measuring career well-being changes over time.  I introduced the Wellbeing Finder in a previous post.  Next, acknowledge that adding an MBA program will create additional demands and new relationships to manage.  Many MBA students and their family members told me they never anticipated the amount of time the MBA program would require.  Addressing work-life balance issues from the start may help maintain your career well-being.

Added Demands Affecting Your Career Well-being 

Added demands, in all likelihood will affect your work and career well-being.  Examples include:

  • Increased stress from trying to do the same amount and quality of work with less time
  • Less interaction with co-workers and direct reports because there is less time for meetings, phone calls, and emails
  • Feedback quality on project documents declines because there is less time to reflect on what you read
  • Working lunches reduce social interaction with your co-workers and direct reports
  • Using weekends for MBA assignments rather than catching up at work.

Your list will differ.  Add to or modify my list by commenting below.

Obtaining Work-Life Balance in the Workplace

You will need to rethink how you work with co-workers and direct reports in order to achieve work-life balance during your MBA study.  Getting their support is important.  Meet with them to discuss items on your list.  Have them help you develop a plan for addressing the additional demands associated with earning your MBA.  Remember, engagement involves your co-workers and direct reports, as well as the boss.

Meeting objectives may include:

  • Proactively managing the relationship between you and them
  • Demonstrate to them that while earning your MBA your performance and engagement will not change
  • Show them how earning your MBA will benefit them as well as your company
  • Get their buy in to your participation in your MBA program
  • Minimize the “out of sight, out of mind” impact of your MBA program participation
  • Inform them of your MBA program participation and what it means

Meeting agenda items may include:

  • Share the good news of being accepted into your MBA program
  • Express gratitude for their support to this point
  • Share with them the extent to which the company is supporting your participation in your MBA program
  • Share information regarding your MBA program, some of which you may have already gathered
  • Commit to maintaining or improving current level of performance while enrolled in your MBA program
  • Offer to share what you learn while attending your MBA program
  • Propose periodic update meetings
  • Concerns or questions
  • Summarize and close

Meeting with co-workers and direct reports may not be an option for everyone, especially when the MBA is part of a company exit strategy.  You will have to judge and make the decision regarding meetings that may affect your career well-being and, therefore, your work-life balance.

Is meeting with co-workers and direct reports a good suggestion for addressing work-life balance during MBA study?  How would you modify the meeting objectives or agenda provided to achieve work-life balance?  Please share your thoughts regarding meeting with your co-workers and direct reports in comments below.  Invite others to join the discussion.

In my next post addressing MBA Work-Life Balance, I will help you prepare to meet with your MBA team members.


Rodney G. Alsup, D.B.A., CPA, CITP
Founder of

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